... a novel that is immensely satisfying, refreshingly new and gloriously written. Here Moreno-Garcia mashes up Anglocentric genres with midcentury Mexican history, resulting in a brew flavored with love, heartbreak, violence, music and unsettling dread ... the gift of this book, and Moreno-Garcia’s storytelling, is how it imbues this well-worn genre with added strength, grace and even musicality.
Throughout her career, the style-shifting novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia has demonstrated a remarkable ability to employ the tropes of genre fiction while simultaneously subverting and decolonizing them ... Velvet Was the Night her riveting new noir, is an adrenalized, darkly romantic journey set during Mexico’s Dirty War ... Moreno-Garcia keeps us guessing ... Moreno-Garcia always leaves her own indelible stamp on any seemingly familiar genre.
Velvet Was the Night has little in common with the delirious Mexican Gothic. Its prose is lean, its characters are nobodies, its setting is urban, and there isn’t the slightest speck of the supernatural. But Moreno-Garcia, a bona fide literary chameleon, slips effortlessly out of the satin pumps of the gothic and into the beat-up wingtips of noir. The scary thing about this novel is how good it is ... the way that war—not a world war, but the Dirty War between the government and its restive citizens—keeps erupting into their lives, forcing them to confront the reality of history and politics, keeps the novel fresh; in contrast with classic noir, this war refuses to remain hidden. The delectable cocktail that is Velvet Was the Night contains a generous dash of bitters, but the finish is satisfyingly mellow. It goes down so smoothly that it left me marveling at what kind of sorceress Moreno-Garcia must be as she reworks genre after genre, weaving in Mexican history and culture, satisfying familiar cravings without resorting to mere pastiche.
... this book is intelligent, sexy, and highly entertaining. It also showcases Moreno-Garcia’s evolving mastery of her prose style—more streamlined and confident than in Mexican Gothic—and the enviable sweep of her creative ability to write fascinating characters within and through multiple genres ... Moreno-Garcia’s portrayal of Maite is one of the most intriguing and delightful aspects of the novel: the character elicits from the reader a confusing combination of sympathy and derision ... The historical detail of Velvet Was the Night lends the novel its gravity and intellect, but it is the author’s considerable skill with developing characters and thrilling, fast-paced plotlines that gives it its energy. The perfect summer indulgence, this book leaves the reader keyed up, breathless, and eager for more of what Moreno-Garcia has to offer.
... a wonderfully entertaining, slyly feminist pulp novel ... Pulp fiction also has a characteristically unique attitude woven through its narrative, a wry and judgy sensibility. Moreno-Garcia's novel has all these pulp elements, especially the narrative swagger ... When...lives and their stories converge, the novel builds to an ending for Maite (and for readers) that's 'unusual and unforeseen.'
... a delicious, slow burn noir drama about a city on the brink of revolution or destruction and two wildly different people caught up in one unsolvable mystery ... Moreno-Garcia writes with gravity, believability, and a clear and obvious love for the antihero ... Proving yet again that there is no genre she can’t master, Silvia Moreno-Garcia wows with Velvet Was the Night, an edgy and smoky noir perfect for those who love slow burn mysteries, intricate plots and loveable antiheroes.
... nothing like Mexican Gothic, and that's great because it'll show [Moreno-Garcia's] new readers what others have known for years: Moreno-Garcia's work is like a wild pendulum that swings from horror to fantasy to noir, and she does them all equally well ... Moreno-Garcia does many things well here. The first is creating memorable characters. Maite and Elvis are unique, flawed, and sad in a way that burrows into your heart ... The second thing Moreno-Garcia excels at is creating a complicated plot that's easy to read. Between Russian spies, dissident artists, and government agencies, there are many moving parts in this novel, but she handles them beautifully and allows her characters to deliver all necessary information; even if you're not remotely familiar with the ripple effects of May 1968 or the political turmoil of Mexico in the 70s, you'll still be able to keep up ... possesses a slow-burn plot where truths are revealed one at a time, but the heart of it is not the intrigue and violence surrounding Leonora's disappearance. No, the heart of this novel is its two main characters, Maite and Elvis, and the way they bring the story to life. This is a noir with a heart of gold, and it's a narrative in which the empathy we feel for its characters ultimately reveals an important truth: That Moreno-Garcia is not only a talented storyteller but also an incredibly versatile one.
... a remarkably evocative noir novel set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent political times in Mexico’s recent history. Silvia Moreno-Garcia deftly maneuvers our two almost-anti-heroes through a dance of revolutionaries, reactionaries, and misdeeds, setting them to chase down the MacGuffin of Leonora’s photographs while each longing for a better life. More importantly, both Maite and Elvis struggle to come to terms with the faults in their own expectations, even as the reader grows to sympathize with these flawed but relatable leads. It’s not quite a romance novel, but it does feel deeply romantic, with a truly wonderful ending.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a knack for re-envisioning familiar, even comforting genre territory in vital new ways ... As always, Moreno-Garcia couches all her riffs on genre conventions within a deeply ingrained sense of character. Before we can fully grasp the many angles of the tangled, noir-tinged web she’s weaving, we must first get to know Maite and Elvis and their different forms of ache and longing. Through precise, accessible yet poetic prose, these characters instantly come alive ... another triumph for one of genre fiction’s brightest voices, a book that will keep you up late into the night.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the most impressive sort of writer, driven to experiment with genre approaches while maintaining a consistently high quality of work ... With Velvet Was the Night, Moreno-Garcia has written a note-perfect noir, complete with rainy nights and harsh shadows, crackly records and lingering cigarette smoke. It’s a world of moral ambiguity and of surprising complexity ... It’s a delectable feast of a story.
[An] enthralling tale that’s as fun as it is mysterious ... Though a bit slow to start, once Velvet Was the Night gets going, it’s hard to put down. The characters are fascinating, the tone lush and romantic, and it’s all wrapped up in a mystery with twists and turns one likely won’t see coming ... Moreno-Garcia’s writing style, which captivated audiences in her bestselling 2020 horror novel Mexican Gothic is firing on all cylinders again despite the slightly slow start, showing off her flexibility and prowess as a crafter of engaging stories – even if you are not a fan of noirs. Her word choice is confident, fluid and natural, never feeling forced.
Moreno-Garcia keeps the suspense high and the action intense, all while sharing a bit of 1970s Mexican history in this perfectly pitched novel ... Fans of Moreno-Garcia’s other novels will relish this title, as will noir aficionados and readers who like stories about everymen and -women rising to the occasion.
[Moreno-Garcia] returns to noir crime fiction with a winner that brings together a romance-fiction-obsessed secretary and a lovelorn enforcer during the brutally suppressed student riots in 1970s Mexico City ... readers will be rooting for them and hoping they find some happiness, and, maybe, even, each other.
It’s hard to describe how much fun this novel is—Moreno-Garcia, whose Mexican Gothic (2020) gripped readers last year, proves to be just as good at noir as she is at horror. The novel features memorable characters, taut pacing, an intricate plot, and antiheroes you can’t help but root for ... A noir masterpiece.
This seductive neo-noir thriller from bestseller Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic) draws on the real-life efforts of the Mexican government to suppress political dissent in the 1970s ... This is a rich novel with an engrossing plot, distinctive characters, and a pleasing touch of romance. Readers won’t be able to put it down.